*WARNING*: Real triathletes may find this post offensive! Please select another post!!
Lord Howe Island visitors seeking inertia are likely to be disappointed. Getting from A to B usually involves walking or cycling – and the best island activities are high-energy, hands-on and outdoors based. So after two days of reconnaissance on foot, we extended our range with bicycles – and that’s how I inadvertently became a triathlete!
But not a conventional one.
Callously flouting triathlon rules we started with the cycling leg, broke it into three parts and split the second one with a bakery lunch. Well, wouldn’t you? And despite my 28 year cycling hiatus, I still taught other cyclists a thing or two about cycling speed. You’d think the Islanders had never seen anyone cycle so slowly as they whizzed past me, Mills & Boon-man thighs – all tanned and muscular – working their pedals into a blur!! But I guess they’d already seen the magnificent scenery my more leisurely (aka ‘snail’) pace allowed me to admire …
Swimming at Old Settlement Beach, Lord Howe Island
In my defence, my pre-holiday Farm Gym fitness regime suffered several setbacks. A fencing session (post & wire, not epée & en garde) in gumboots on a steep, rocky slope covered in slippery grass went horribly wrong. While no photographic evidence exists to support my ‘world’s first planker’ claim, the slide to the bottom of the hill on my stomach was pure planking in motion … although planking purists could argue my swift, ungainly descent wasn’t actually ‘balancing’!
The twisted ankle and bout of flu came later.
But none of those affected the swimming leg at beautiful Old Settlement Beach, although it would have been much faster (and further!) if not for the distraction of unrelieved views over Mounts Lidgbird and Gower.
Old Settlement Beach from Malabar Hill, Lord Howe Island
In another desperate act of triathletic rebellion, we replaced running with hiking. Which made this the most challenging leg so far, given a) the bakery lunch taken during the second cycling leg, b) wet swimmers and c) inappropriate sandals. Malabar Hill’s steep climb – from 0 to 209 metres above sea level – rewards triathletes (and regular climbers) who reach the narrow ridge without contracting vertigo with a 360° view taking in Old Settlement, the Admiralty Islands, Ned’s Beach and – best of all – the wondrous Ball’s Pyramid in the distance! And while looking down all 209 metres of sheer cliff to a turtle swimming in the sea below made me feel queasy, the Red-tailed Tropicbirds flying backwards (literally!) and forwards at eye level more than made up for it.
Looking South from Malabar Hill
Descending quickly to avoid the threatening rain, we broke the final cycling leg back along lagoon road to our lodge by a stop at the shop for essential provisions for an evening in. Just as well as it later poured with rain! But it wouldn’t have mattered anyway – I was too tired to move …
For the record, here are my results:
Lord Howe Island Triathlon statistics:
She’ll be coming down the mountain …
General handicaps: Planking injuries, twisted ankle, system weakened by flu, spectacular scenery, bakery temptation
Cycling legs: ~6km total over 3 legs. Handicaps: 28 years between cycles
Swimming leg: 20m (no, that’s not a misprint. ‘Swim’ is a euphemism for ‘dip and splash about’)
Hiking leg: 1.4 km return, from 0-209 metres above sea level. Handicaps: Recent lunch, inappropriate sandals, wet clothing
Time taken: All day!!
Ranking: 2nd (of two, although the other participant didn’t have as many of the general handicaps!)
And if you’re thinking it’d be easy to outdo this performance, feel free to give it a go – but ensure you apply the same or equivalent handicaps!!